Our first dog

Almost a year ago, we decided to take our son into a pet store. This was not a wise decision for us. On this visit to Charleston, West Virginia, we stopped to kill time and just to look at dogs.

Surprisingly, Hunter started the questioning “Can I have a dog mommy?” After trying to explain that now was not the time to get a dog, he continued to question. “Well, if not now? When can we get one? When we get home? For my birthday?”

We had been to pet stores in the past and he had never once asked to bring a dog home. We hadn’t thought the visit to the pet store through enough before we went. Now there was no turning the questions off.  We had opened a new can of worms. In doing so, we both immediately regretted the pet shop decision.

They had an adorable dog that my son fell in love with. He wanted the dachshund puppy. We heard nothing but dog talk for several months. Diverting his attention away from getting the puppy did not last long. It kept coming up in conversations, no matter how we tried to avoid the reasoning of why we couldn’t have a dog.

I did a lot of research on dogs with special needs kids. The dachshund pup was not on the list recommended for children with disabilities. I was determined to find something that would fit for him. Also, I had to consider Tristan’s fears of loud barks from large breed dogs.

The dogs that are recommended as the best were labradors. I went back and forth over the idea for some time and then looked more into the larger breed dog.
I didn’t know how a small dog would survive 2 rough boys. I was sure on one thing, the dog needed to be able to take some wrestling and be gentle as well.

Also, I knew that this was going to be a lot of work for myself. Let’s face it, 2 kids with autism are a lot of work. People were telling me I would be insane if I added a dog into the mix. I like being challenged and don’t like failure, so I had made the crazy decision. We were going to get a dog. Picking the right one was going to be the hard part.

The Autism Service Dogs of America had an enormous amount of information about the labrador service dogs they use.

My dream dog as a child was a yellow lab. So I let my heart guide me and take over my brain. We became and owner of, Hope, a really beautiful yellow lab. I instantly fell in love.

The boys were very excited to have a dog, but Hunter, to my surprise, was terrified of her for a while, during the early puppy stages. Tristan loved to run with her, lay and snuggle with her.

It was a heck of a work out trying to potty train a puppy and 2-year-old with ASD. I can not tell you how much scrubbing of the carpets occurred those first 3 months. I thought I was a little crazy before, but now I was sure that I had gone goofy.

We survived the tiny, sharp and painful puppy bites in the beginning. I built up a tolerance to cleaning up messes and chewed toys and other non-edibles. I have learned to roll with the punches.

The dog was hard work but in the end, I do not know where we would be without her. She helps the boys socialize. She has a motherly instinct and checks on them at night. She is a wonderful, not so tiny, lap dog. However, they love the deep pressure she provides to them.

Our dog, Hope, has given us a wonderful new friend for the boys to love. Hunter and Tristan enjoy snuggle time with their new good friend. Oddly enough, I find myself being attached to her more than I imagined. She has tought Hunter to be responsible, since he feeds and lets her out when she needs to be out. The boys share a great bond with her. It was hard work to train a dog but she was definitely meant to be part of our family. Even if she slurps and is furry.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. acollage
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 17:24:55

    We got a service dog for our son with ASD on NYE 2009. (Our first anniversary is in two days!) We never could have imagined what blessings he has brought to our home. My little guy has a best friend that can’t get mad at him. He’s got someone to cuddle with him while watching TV or when having a meltdown. He’s got someone to talk to 24/7. Sure, I have to vacuum almost daily because he’s the only white lab that sheds buckets and I’ve had vet bills here and there since we can’t miss any exam or dental cleaning so we keep him as healthy as a kid, but it’s all been worth it. I’m glad you have Hope! The boys will definitely benefit!

    Reply

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